About 135 mi/220 km northeast of Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands is a wonderful place to escape the heat and to experience Malaysia's lush interior—it has one of the finest climates in all of Southeast Asia, which is one of the reasons it became the most important hill-station retreat during British colonial times. You can spend several days hiking along jungle paths to see mountain scenery and waterfalls, visiting butterfly and orchid farms and touring tea plantations.
At the tea plantations, tidy rows of tea bushes are a dramatic contrast to the surrounding jungle vegetation. Tours include a walk through the fields and a visit to the processing plant where the drying and packing is done by hand. The hill station offers a decent golf course and excellent accommodations—worth the long, winding drive. Even if you don't stay at the oh-so-British Ye Olde Smokehouse Hotel, be sure to have a look (or partake of afternoon tea).
If you're driving from Cameron Highlands to Penang, Taiping is worth a stop. Off the main road about 60 mi/97 km south of Penang, this old mining center has a beautiful lake, colonial architecture, misty views of the surrounding hills and a nice museum (the oldest in Malaysia). Also nearby is Maxwell Hill, another hill station unchanged since colonial days.
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